The Brisbane Heat and Mackay Regional Council announced today in Mackay that an agreement had been signed that will see Harrup Park host the WBBL Heat and Melbourne Stars teams on Friday 12 January and Saturday January 13, 2018.
The Heat begin their WBBL|03 campaign on Sunday 10 December against the Perth Scorchers in Sydney.
Mackay has previously hosted Sheffield Shield and domestic one-day games featuring the Bulls, as well as matches in the winter International Quadrangular ‘A’ Series in 2016.
Brisbane Heat general manager Andrew McShea said the opportunity to take the Heat to a major regional centre complemented cricket’s overall strategy of using the WBBL and BBL to grow the game and promote the game to new audiences.
“Harrup Park has shown it has the capability to host elite cricket and we’re pleased to be able to bring a WBBL round to Mackay for the first time,’’ he said.
“We’re very grateful to the Mackay Regional Council and Mayor Greg Williamson for their support of this opportunity, and of course the commitment by the Harrup Park Country Club and Mackay Cricket to provide such great facilities.”
“The Mackay community has already shown it enthusiastically supports cricket events at the venue, so it will be very exciting to be able to turn the lights on and welcome the fans to the two matches.”
“Hopefully the presence of the Heat and the Stars squads will inspire even more women and girls to play the game in the region,” McShea said.
Mayor Greg Williamson said it was exciting for Mackay to be hosting elite women cricketers in the thrill-a-minute “Big Bash” format of the game.
“This is another excellent outcome from our successful Invest Mackay Events Attraction Program, which helped secure drawcard events in 2017, ranging from the State of Origin Maroons Fan Day to the recent Elton John concert,’’ Cr Williamson said.
“We also provided $250,000 towards the major Harrup Park lighting upgrade through our Better Community Building Fund,’’ he said.
The Heat today announced they would welcome back the hard-hitting Grace Harris after a season away with the Melbourne Renegades, with the allrounder making an instant impact for the Heat in WBBL|01 when she became the first woman to score a century in the inaugural competition.
Harris, 24, is currently recovering from knee surgery and is hoping to be available for the Heat’s opening round of the WBBL on December 9 in Sydney.
Powerhouse West Indian allrounder Deandra Dottin will return as the Heat’s international player, and along with Harris, forms a formidable batting presence in the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League.
The Heat have re-signed the lions’ share of last year’s squad, including pace bowlers Holly Ferling, Kara Sutherland and Georgia Prestwidge, allrounders Delissa Kimmince, Jemma Barsby, Haidee Birkett and Sammy-Jo Johnson as well as batters Tess Cooper, Laura Harris and Kirby Short.
They join Australia players Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen as 14 of the 15 contracted Heat players, with one spot to be filled.